Christ Tshiunza earns Exeter dramatic win in 85-point thriller with Quins - but should try have stood?

Exeter win 85-point thriller against Harlequins with controversial Tshiunza try  - Harry Trump/Getty Images
Exeter win 85-point thriller against Harlequins with controversial Tshiunza try - Harry Trump/Getty Images
  • Exeter snatch second successive home win with the last play of game

  • Wales international Christ Tshiunza denies Harlequins superb comeback

  • But opinion divided over whether try should have stood, after possible forward pass in build-up

What an absurd second half this was in Devon, even by Harlequins' lofty standards for the unpredictable. From 31-7 down, after Exeter had barely put a foot wrong in the opening 40 minutes, Harlequins thought a superb display of attacking rugby appeared to have produced another unlikely win away from home. Except Christ Tshiunza had other ideas.

Roaming the wings all match, Tshiunza spotted a prop as the last defender and after an exhausting Exeter attack sprinted clear for the win with time up on the clock. But would the try stand? A pass in the build-up from Stuart Hogg to Patrick Schickerling proved highly suspicious, pressing pause on Exeter's celebrations.

The referee, Ian Tempest, after a lengthy stoppage decided he could not conclusively rule the pass was forward - although from the stands it certainly looked so and the television match official seemed to agree, advice which Tempest overruled. The Harlequins attack coach, Nick Evans, thought otherwise. "Bulls--t", he was spotted saying in the aftermath. In many ways it was an appropriately bonkers ending to a wild second half where Harlequins appeared to have pulled off another absurd comeback, only for Exeter to redeem themselves through Tshiunza's late finish, having just seen a 24-point lead disappear.

Naturally opinion on the incident, as seen in the pictures below, differed among coaches. "Ultimately the TMO is there to give the referee advice and make the game more accurate. So if the referee has chosen not to use that information that is flipping frustrating," Tabai Matson said, adding he expected the incident to come up in the RFU's Monday review. "They are pretty diligent at HQ so I am sure that will be brought up and if it isn’t I will be ringing them on Tuesday."

Stuart Hogg's pass to Patrick Schickerling divided opinion
Stuart Hogg's pass to Patrick Schickerling divided opinion
After a lengthy stoppage referee Ian Tempest decided he could not conclusively rule the pass was forward
After a lengthy stoppage referee Ian Tempest decided he could not conclusively rule the pass was forward

Exeter's head coach Ali Hepher concluded: "I would say as they rule it now that's not forwards. The hands went backwards, momentum carries the ball forwards slightly, not a mile. They're probably right to review it but I'm obviously going to say it was alright."

Days after Sam Simmonds departure for Montpellier was announced it felt appropriate Tshiunza displayed a similar hunger for opportunities out wide. Hepher notably praised Simmonds for his transparency ahead of his move to France. "Great credit to him, he's got a fantastic opportunity ahead of him. He's done amazingly well for us over the years.

"Chris is a phenomenal athlete. Without that lineout steal at the front at the end, we don't win the game. He's quick, can step, and physically chuck himself in there. He's not shy of contact. He has all the ingredients to be a top class player."

Marcus Smith's cold start - sending his opening kick-off straight into touch - was a sign of things to come in a first half where Harlequins were physically second best and Exeter looked precise and clinical, with Harry Williams and Stu Townsend tries contributing to a 17-0 Exeter lead before Tshiunza's superb first try.

Tshiunza made his Test debut for Wales last November before he had started a Gallagher Premiership match but it now feels like his time has come. With work to do receiving the ball on the left wing and three Harlequins defenders ahead of him, Tshiunza set off like a sprinter, his pace causing confusion in the defence as he stepped inside and brushed through would-be tacklers to score his first try for Exeter.

Cadan Murley scored his third try in three games to give Harlequins a bit of life but still everything broke Exeter's way, Harvey Skinner picking up a dropped ball and outsprinting the chasing Harlequins defenders to score Exeter's bonus-point try for a 31-7 half-time lead.

Harvey Skinner scored Exeter's bonus-point try to cap off a near-perfect first half for Exeter - Bob Bradford/CameraSport
Harvey Skinner scored Exeter's bonus-point try to cap off a near-perfect first half for Exeter - Bob Bradford/CameraSport

Harlequins, of course, love making a mockery of these kinds of deficits and began the second half in a frenzy, aided by Danny Care's arrival with Tyrone Green and Murley both scoring as Exeter were exposed down the left flank, before Luke Northmore produced a spectacular solo effort. Perhaps Joe Simmonds simply underestimated Northmore's pace because the Harlequins back smoked him, sprinting to score Harlequins' bonus-point try and leaving Harlequins only three points behind.

In a sign that Exeter heads had now truly gone, Harlequins emphatically took the lead. From an uncontested scrum - after both Harlequins hookers were forced off through injury - Exeter really were caught napping, with Murley off his wing putting Northmore into space, stepping Jack Nowell to score.

The funny thing with enormous comebacks is often what happens afterwards. Would Exeter rally or keep bleeding line breaks? Patrick Schickerling's low rumbling carry over the line to score put a previously shocked Exeter back in front.

But after a yellow card for Ian Whitten, Harlequins opted for another uncontested scrum and Marcus Smith's cross-field kick was controlled by Marchant off his chest before the England international dotted down to score and make it 42-38.

A second half packed full of twists still contained enough time for one more, and what a twist it proved out to be too with Tshiunza's controversial late score. Harlequins understandably felt aggrieved. Exeter? Pure delirium.

Match details

Scoring sequence: 5-0 Williams try, 7-0 J Simmonds con, 10-0 J Simmonds pen, 15-0 Townsend try, 17-0 J Simmonds con, 22-0 Tshiunza try, 24-0 J Simmons con, 24-5 Murley try, 24-7 Smith con, 29-7 Skinner try, 31-7 J Simmonds con, 31-12 Green try, 31-14 Smith con, 31-19 Murley try, 31-21 Smith con, 31-26 Northmore try, 31-28 Smith con, 31-33 Northmore try, 31-35 Smith con, 36-35 Schickerling try, 38-35 Slade con, 38-40 Marchant try, 38-42 Smith con, 43-42 Tshiunza try

Exeter Chiefs: J Simmonds (S Hogg 57); J Nowell, H Slade (R O'Loughlin 76), I Whitten, O Woodburn; H Skinner, S Townsend (S Maunder 50); A Hepburn (J Kenny 53), L Cowan-Dickie (c, J Yeandle 48), H Williams (P Schickerling 60), R van Heerden (D Jenkins 50), J Gray, D Ewers (S Simmonds 50), C Tshiunza, R Capstick

Yellow card: Whitten 70

Harlequins: T Green; J Marchant, L Northmore, L Anyanwu, C Murley; M Smith, L Gjaltema (D Care 40); S Garcia Botta (F Baxter 57), J Walker (c, G Head 53, S Kerrod 59), W Louw, G Hammond (D Lamb 57), I Herbst, J Kenningham, W Evans, A White (M Jurevicius 69)

Not used: T Allan, N David

Referee: I Tempest

Attendance: 9,399

Exeter 43 - 42 Harlequins: as it happened

05:12 PM

An incredible shift for both teams

Exhausted Harlequins players collapse with despair following Tshiunza's last-minute try which handed Exeter the win - David Davies/PA
Exhausted Harlequins players collapse with despair following Tshiunza's last-minute try which handed Exeter the win - David Davies/PA

05:08 PM

Player of the match

By a long shot. Christ Tshiunza was unstoppable this afternoon.

05:07 PM

What might have been the winning try

Hard to imagine how this was upstaged, but that's the Premiership.

05:03 PM

Goodness gracious

Another heroic Exeter performance, as the team continues to define this season by their refusal to give up at any stage.

Granted, they were responsible for letting Harlequins play as well as they did in the second half. But in the game's final moments,  Chiefs' heart, and Tshiunza, proved the difference.

05:00 PM

80+2 min: Exeter Chiefs 43 Harlequins 42

The angles aren't sufficiently clear enough for Tempest to change his on-field decision - a towering TRY for Exeter!

Sandy Park is jumping, as the players celebrate wildly. Skinner takes the conversion, which no one is waiting for, and he can't get it through the posts. Who cares?

A spectacular, emotional victory for Exeter.

04:58 PM

80+1 min: Exeter Chiefs 38 Harlequins 42

Harlequins lose their lineout, with Maunder snatching up the ball for a final rush at the tryline. They're in deep defensive territory, looking for the breakthrough, and Nowell and Hogg combine to try and break on the right. But Northmore gets a terrific hit on Nowell, forcing a Chiefs reset.

Tshiunza gallops down the the left wing, looking for another bullish press. But O'Loughlin's wonder pass, which goes over his head, to set up a righthanded attack, leads to an almighty Chiefs break.

In the end, it's Tshiunza who picks up the ball and muscles through to score a try! Or does he...

TMO has to check a potential forward pass in the lead up...

Tensions are high at Sandy Park.

04:54 PM

78 min: Exeter Chiefs 38 Harlequins 42

Maunder sets up Skinner, with Woodburn taking up the ball next to break and rush forward, but Marchant gets the turnover.

Hogg, back in his own half, goes all the way round to burst through the Harlequins line, but Evans floors him. Woodburn has the next break, Chiefs throwing everything behind the possibility of a last-gasp winner.

04:51 PM

76 min: Exeter Chiefs 38 Harlequins 42

A penalty for Chiefs, after Harlequins hold on to long. Slade kicks it out of touch to set up a high lineout. They're within spitting distance of the try line, but Harlequins win it back.

Passing back to Smith, he kicks the ball into touch by the halfway line, looking to displace Chiefs as quickly as possible.

04:50 PM

74 min: Exeter Chiefs 38 Harlequins 42

Simmonds makes ground for Chiefs as they look for a winner to overcome an almighty Harlequins performance in this second half.

Smith kicks down the pitch, Slade picks up and goes on the run, easing over the halfway line.

Set up by Nowell, Simmonds looks for a gap on the right, as inch by inch, Chiefs move forward.

04:47 PM

71 min: TRY Exeter Chiefs 38 Harlequins 42

A TRY for Harlequins! An excellent kick from Smith falls perfectly for Marchant, out wide and unattached. He nonchalantly taps the bouncing ball in field, regathers it, and Harlequins are ahead again.

Smith converts. Breathless stuff.

joe marchant - David Davies/PA
joe marchant - David Davies/PA

04:45 PM

69 min: Exeter Chiefs 38 Harlequins 35

It's Slade who lines up to convert now, and he does. Sandy Park is alive again.

Another Harlequins change, Jurevicius coming on for White.

Off the pitch, Head has failed his HIA.

Harlequins with the break, as Northmore loses to go for his hattrick, but he drops the ball. Murley can pick up and go on the run, but Whitten challenges him, and receives a yellow card, for his feet-off-the ground tackle.

04:42 PM

67 min: Exeter Chiefs 36 Harlequins 35

Hogg passes to Yeandle, Chiefs seeking to bring back momentum. Slade finds Tshiunza, looking for a gap on the other side, but play instead transfers to Capstick and Hogg.

Exeter win a lineout over the 22m line, pushing their rolling maul closer and closer to the try line. Maunder passes to Nowell, who gets it to Schickerling who goes for the try line. Has he gone to ground in time?

A little deliberation, but it looks like his place is inch-perfect: a TRY for Exeter!

They're back in the lead in this breathless second half.

04:38 PM

64 min: Exeter Chiefs 31 Harlequins 35

Woodburn gathers up the ball and breaks all the way to the 22m. He's covered in Harlequins players, but manages to get the ball across to Slade, as Chiefs gain territory.

04:37 PM

62 min: Exeter Chiefs 31 Harlequins 35

Smith converts, and Harlequins are ahead; a rejoinder to BT Sport's win predictor if there ever was one.

Another not-straight Chiefs lineout, the Chiefs having been extremely profligate with penalties given away. Harlequins take advantage of the uncontested scrum and Green and Murley again team up to go sprinting down the line. Woodburn gets in the way, and finally a penalty goes Chiefs' way as they seek to rebuild.

04:34 PM

60 min: TRY! Exeter Chiefs 31 Harlequins 33

Head is receiving medical attention on the pitch, pausing play as he's assessed. He eventually exits for Kerrod, and there will be uncontested scrums for the remainder of the match, with Head having replaced Walker injury in the first instance.

Separately, Hammond has come off for Lamb, for Harlequins, and Williams off for Schickerling for Chiefs.

Following a Harlequins lineout, a penalty: the first of the uncontested scrums. Northmore picks up the ball and goes for a quick breaking run: another TRY for Harlequins!

Goodness.

Luke Northmore of Harlequins breaks clear to score their sides fifth try during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Exeter Chiefs and Harlequins at Sandy Park on September 25, 2022 in Exeter, England. - Harry Trump/Getty Images
Luke Northmore of Harlequins breaks clear to score their sides fifth try during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Exeter Chiefs and Harlequins at Sandy Park on September 25, 2022 in Exeter, England. - Harry Trump/Getty Images

04:29 PM

58 min: Exeter Chiefs 31 Harlequins 28

Joe Simmonds off for Hogg, which means Sam Simmonds gets to be Simmonds, only. Chiefs are looking for that immediate restart, and it's Woodburn who goes for a breaking run, before passing off to Simmonds, as they gradually gain ground.

Holding on from Harlequins, and a little exchange of views between Care and the referee, with the threat of a penalty reversal if Care shouts at Ian Tempest again.

04:26 PM

56 min: TRY! Exeter Chiefs 31 Harlequins 28

Anyanwu gets the ball off the scrum, bursting through the line, before handing off to Northmore, who goes on a tremendous run to score another TRY for Harlequins!

This is scarcely believable only minutes after a hellish first half, but Northmore has no equal, leaving Chiefs players in his dust.

Smith converts, and Harlequins are now only three points behind.

04:23 PM

54 min: Exeter Chiefs 31 Harlequins 21

Kenny comes on for Hepburn, in another Chiefs change, and Head comes on for Walker for Harlequins.

Chiefs break out from the scrum, Woodburn then passing off to Skinner, before Capstick helps move the pack closer to the try line. Woodburn fumbles a catch, and the ball is knocked on by Chiefs, setting up a Harlequins scrum on the 22m line.

04:20 PM

52 min: Exeter Chiefs 31 Harlequins 21

Exeter look to regain lost territory, Whitten passing off to Skinner, then to Sam Simmonds, sprinting down the line, before being bundled up by the Harlequins defence. Harlequins gain the advantage, Smith kicking into touch for the lineout.

04:18 PM

50 min: TRY! Exeter Chiefs 31 Harlequins 21

Harlequins are looking peppy and energetic, capitalising on Exeter's terrible penalty form - the last nine of ten have gone against them. White connects with Green, looking for another try, and he passes off to Murley, who sprints over the try line for a Harlequins TRY!

No particular interference from the Chiefs' defence there. What a team talk that must have been for Harlequins.

Ewers comes off for Sam Simmonds, and Van Heerden for Jenkins, after Smith converts.

04:15 PM

48 min: Exeter Chiefs 31 Harlequins 14

Smith converts, and opens up a way back into the match for Harlequins.

A change for Chiefs, Yeandle on for Cowan-Dickie.

04:13 PM

46 min: TRY! Exeter Chiefs 31 Harlequins 12

Another penalty against Exeter, Capstick on the end of it this time, and inch by inch, Harlequins gain territory.

Quins break, Murley sprinting down the 5m line, before passing off to Green. Cowan-Dickie goes for him with an exquisite tackle, but it's too late: TRY for Harlequins!

04:12 PM

44 min: Exeter Chiefs 31 Harlequins 7

Ewers gets the ball paces from the try line, but Harlequins players are swarming. Capstick knocks the ball on, and Harlequins get another breather.

A Harlequins scrum gives Smith the ball, and they get the advantage, with a penalty going against Hepburn in the scrum. Harlequins get the lineout closer to the halfway line.

04:08 PM

42 min: Exeter Chiefs 31 Harlequins 7

Woodburn, who was excellent for Exeter in the first half, springs out of the gates, as Exeter immediately start gaining territory in the second half. Tshiunza looks to break through, then Townsend, seeking the try line. Van Heerden goes for a break, within 4m of the tryline, as momentum builds.

But there's a penalty for Harlequins, who have managed to keep out Chiefs, Care breaking away quickly. But Smith loses the ball, and Chiefs come again.

04:06 PM

40 min: Exeter Chiefs 31 Harlequins 7

Things are back underway at Sandy Park. A Harlequins change at half-time: Danny Care in for Gjaltema.

04:04 PM

What will the final score look like?

Skinner's try in the final minutes of the first half have given Harlequins an enormous hole to climb out of in the second half.

Only a few moments to go until we restart at Sandy Park.

03:52 PM

Bullish brilliance from Tshiunza

03:51 PM

40+1 min: Exeter Chiefs 31 Harlequins 7

BT Sport's win predictor gives Harlequins a 1% chance of victory at this stage, which means it will have to be one almighty team talk at half time in the away dressing room.

A final lineout for Harlequins in this first half, which progresses into a maul. Harlequins work to gain territory, Smith kicking to Marchant, waiting tantalisingly close to the try line.

Smith picks up the ball again, but is quickly set upon by Chiefs players as the whistle blows.

What a start for the Chiefs, nightmarish for Harlequins.

03:48 PM

38 min: TRY! Exeter Chiefs 31 Harlequins 7

TRY for Exeter!

Harlequins have the next scrum, and go on the run, but Anyanwu has the ball swiped off him following a fumbling drop, and then it's Chiefs with a sensational run. Skinner blazes a path up the field and completes a pitch-perfect try.

Simmonds coverts, and that is a formidable first half for the home side.

Harvey Skinner scores Exeter's fourth try of the first half - David Davies/PA
Harvey Skinner scores Exeter's fourth try of the first half - David Davies/PA

03:45 PM

35 min: Exeter Chiefs 24 Harlequins 7

The decision is, no foul play from Ewers, due to Kenningham going into the confrontation low.

Another strong scrum from Harlequins, leads to a lineout which Chiefs dominate. They opt for a scrum, and draw the penalty off the collapse.

03:41 PM

33 min: Exeter Chiefs 24 Harlequins 7

Harlequins lineout goes the better for the side, Smith picking up and looking for another breakthrough.

There's a collision on Kenningham with Ewers. Kenningham dips his head low, and comes off badly, requiring medical attention on the pitch. Whilst he's tended to, the second water break is taken.

03:39 PM

31 min: Exeter Chiefs 24 Harlequins 7

Chiefs are on the march again, however, gaining ground dangerously close to the try line. From the back, Harlequins win the ball, with Smith on the run to try and break for safety. Chiefs block a Harlequins kick, pushing forwards again.

Garcia Botta gets a penalty for Harlequins.

03:35 PM

28 min: Exeter Chiefs 24 Harlequins 7

With a penalty, Harlequins break for the left, Murley giving chase with the ball in front of him, but Slade keeps up just before the try line.

Having had the penalty, there's another scrum in the same position. The same result, another penalty, and that same run.

This time is Murley who streaks through, and does he make the line? He's bundled as he goes over...

The referee heads for a second look.

The try is given: TRY for Harlequins! Smith converts it, and Harlequins are on the board.

03:31 PM

25 min: Exeter Chiefs 24 Harlequins 0

Harlequins look for a response, Marchant bursting through the line before a ruck. Smith gets the ball again, quick to his feet, but Chiefs are all over this attack, Gray and Skinner looking particularly lethal.

The ball is knocked on, and then there's a scrum for Harlequins just over the 22m line.

03:29 PM

23 min: TRY! Exeter Chiefs 24 Harlequins 0

Simmonds passes off to Woodburn, who sets up Tshiunza who with miraculous force, blasts through the Harlequins defence to sprint over the line for another TRY!

An amazing run from Tshiunza, who has baffles the three Quins players going for him.

Conversion from Chiefs. Spectacular stuff from the home side.

Tshiunza is celebrated by his teammates following a stunning try  - Harry Trump/Getty Images
Tshiunza is celebrated by his teammates following a stunning try - Harry Trump/Getty Images

03:26 PM

21 min: Exeter Chiefs 17 Harlequins 0

Harlequins go for the run, but Anyanwu is hit hard, and play is turned over, with Woodburn and Hepburn battling through the Harlequins line.

BT Sport speaks to Nick Evans on the touchline on Harlequins' performance so far:

I think one thing we are losing is both sides of the ball.

They're slowing our ball down.

We just haven't put any sustained momentum on them.

03:23 PM

18 min: Exeter Chiefs 17 Harlequins 0

The Exeter scrum sets up a running Van Heerden, who gets the ball off to Woodburn, then Williams, then Townsend as Chiefs battle to gain ground.

03:20 PM

16 min: Exeter Chiefs 17 Harlequins 0

Woodburn heads off Anyanwu going for a pass. He knocks the ball on, for a scrum at halfway, which Harlequins come off the better in.

Smith passes on the run to set up Murley, looking for their first chance in the game.

A forward pass from Smith, however, halts momentum, ahead of the water break.

03:18 PM

14 min: Exeter Chiefs 17 Harlequins 0

The ball flies up to land with Townsend, whose quickly hooked, but it's all Exeter at the moment. Smith kicks out for a Harlequins lineout, which is fumbled, the ball flying out to land squarely for Chiefs.

03:15 PM

11 min: TRY! Exeter Chiefs 17 Harlequins 0

Exeter win the advantage from the scrum, with Skinner moving nicely. Nowell picks in front of him, and Green takes the ball into touch.

Chiefs continue their advantage, Gray carrying well as he powers past the 22m line.

Pushing and pushing, Townsend, beset with Harlequins player, wriggles over the line for another TRY! Woodburn helps him move through the pack, but it's tasty work from the scrum-half.

Joe Simmonds converts.

03:12 PM

9 min: Exeter Chiefs 10 Harlequins 0

Disaster for Harlequins! Northmore breaks on the run going for a try, having picked up a strangely bouncing balls off Chiefs, but he looks to have dropped the ball before the touch whilst being tumbled by Nowell...

He receives treatment on his ankle, which could have been rolled.

But on closer reexamination, could it be a try? His legs go up as his hands go down, but his foot and the ball land in unison. No try, after all that.

Instead, they get the lineout. Green runs up for a terrific catch, progressing up from the halfway line, but are stymied by Exeter.

03:08 PM

7 min: Exeter Chiefs 10 Harlequins 0

Smith punts, but Whitten goes in for the ball, the Chiefs looking much the more physical side in these freewheeling opening minutes.

Penalty for Chiefs following a ruck, Simmonds placing the ball and kicking through the posts for a goal.

03:05 PM

4 min: Exeter Chiefs 7 Harlequins 0

Skinner with the conversion, in the best possible start for the home side.

03:04 PM

3 min: TRY! Exeter Chiefs 5 Harlequins 0

Cown-Dickie sets up with lineout and Simmonds goes on a terrific run past the 22m line. Cowan-Dickie goes to carry, but is stymied by Erbst.

Then there's a TRY! A quick start for Exeter, with Williams taking the opener, pummeling through Harlequins players to make it across the line.

03:03 PM

1 min: Exeter Chiefs 0 Harlequins 0

A strong start for Exeter, who get the scrum underway. The referee resets before the start, then there's a opportunity to kick into touch further up the field.

03:01 PM

Kick-off: Exeter Chiefs 0 Harlequins 0

We're off!

02:58 PM

BT Sport have a clear Chiefs victory in their win predictor

And there's celebration already in the air, with a whipcracking atmosphere at Sandy Park ahead of the players taking to the pitch, as The Killers blare around the ground.

02:55 PM

Five minutes...

Until we are underway at Sandy Park.

Jack Nowell and Exeter Chiefs players arrive at Sandy Park ahead of their clash with Harlequins - Harry Trump/Getty Images
Jack Nowell and Exeter Chiefs players arrive at Sandy Park ahead of their clash with Harlequins - Harry Trump/Getty Images

02:43 PM

Ali Hepher speaks to BT Sport

Answering questions about Sam Simmonds' move to Montpellier ahead of next season.

What you've heard is what's happening. It's a good move, fantastic move for Simmo and his family.

We've improved him as a player, he's done a fantastic job for us as a player, and he moves on to a fantastic opportunity.

We've got some good prospects coming through that we've got to look at.

02:40 PM

Clouds over Sandy Park

A general view of Sandy Park, home of Exeter Chiefs during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Exeter Chiefs and Harlequins at Sandy Park on September 25, 2022 in Exeter, United Kingdom - Bob Bradford/CameraSport
A general view of Sandy Park, home of Exeter Chiefs during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Exeter Chiefs and Harlequins at Sandy Park on September 25, 2022 in Exeter, United Kingdom - Bob Bradford/CameraSport

02:34 PM

Should Exeter win today

They could go top of the Premiership table, where they currently sit fifth. A Harlequins win would see them displace their opponents, with a move up from eighth.

Alec Hepburn, tackling on the right, has the highest number of carries in the Premiership ahead of their Round 3 tie against Harlequins - David Rogers/Getty Images
Alec Hepburn, tackling on the right, has the highest number of carries in the Premiership ahead of their Round 3 tie against Harlequins - David Rogers/Getty Images

02:27 PM

Caden Murley exclusive: What it's really like to live with Marcus Smith – and my England ambitions

To say Cadan Murley and Marcus Smith are hard to prise apart is an understatement. The pair are back together for Harlequins on the field at Exeter on Sunday – a welcome boost to the London club given the number of tries the pair combined to produce last season – but off it, they are also inseparable.

Murley and Smith are long-term housemates who have settled into a happy domestic routine – battling each other on Fifa, while learning to respect each other’s approach over washing up the dishes.

Read Ben Coles' interview with Harlequins winger Caden Murley here.

02:17 PM

Team news in full

Harlequins starting XV: 15 Tyrone Green, 14 Joe Marchant, 13 Luke Northmore, 12 Lennox Anyanwu, 11 Cadan Murley, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Lewis Gjaltema; 1 Santiago Garcia Botta, 2 Jack Walker (c), 3 Wilco Louw, 4 George Hammond, 5 Irne Herbst, 6 Jack Kenningham, 7 Will Evans, 8 Archie White

Replacements: 16 George Head, 17 Fin Baxter, 18 Simon Kerrod, 19 Dino Lamb, 20 Matas Jurevicius, 21 Danny Care, 22 Tommy Allan, 23 Nick David 

A late change for Harlequins this morning: Joe Marler ruled out due to illness; Santiago Garcia Botta coming into the starting XV to replace him.

Exeter Chiefs starting XV: 15 Joe Simmonds, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Ian Whitten, 11 Olly Woodburn, 10 Harvey Skinner, 9 Stu Townsend; 1 Alec Hepburn, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie (c), 3 Harry Williams, 4 Ruben Van Heerden, 5 Jonny Gray, 6 Dave Ewers, 7 Christ Tshiunza, 8 Richard Capstick

Replacements: 16 Jack Yeandle, 17 James Kenny, 18 Patrick Schickerling, 19 Dafydd Jenkins, 20 Sam Simmonds, 21 Sam Maunder, 22 Rory O’Loughlin, 23 Stuart Hogg

02:08 PM

Good afternoon

Hello and welcome to Telegraph Sport's coverage of Exeter Chiefs versus Harlequins at Sandy Park, with kick-off at 3pm.

Chiefs have started off the season in flying form, edging a win over defending champions Leicester on opening weekend following a last-gasp try from Patrick Schickerling, and a more comfortable win over embattled Worcester last weekend.

But they will have to harness all of their defensive firepower to make it three-in-a-row against Harlequins today. Last weekend's narrow loss against rivals Saracens showed their strength, and with several players, including Marcus Smith, back in the starting XI, they should be an improved side at Sandy Park.

This is the Chiefs' second home game of the season, and Director of Rugby Rob Baxter lauded the opportunity for home matches to prove the difference this season.

“The fact we’re home in a lot ways is more important than Harlequins, just because I want us to perform here.

"What we’ve talked about this week – and I will remind them again now – is it’s a home game and we set high standards for home games of ourselves," Baxter said.

“In the last game you could see what a big home performance could do and the atmosphere it can create. Against Leicester, you could feel the crowd growing and growing and they played a huge part in the game. There was huge energy within the ground and it felt like Leicester were hanging on and that we were growing, it’s just whether we would run out of time in the end.

“It was like what Sir Alex Ferguson used to say: ‘we weren’t going to get beat, but we may run out of time’, and that’s kind of how it felt.

"I want us to be that team that is coming forward all the team, whether we’re in front or behind, we need to be pushing forward and challenging."

Ahead of kick-off, we'll be bringing you team news, live updates, and latest reaction after the match too.